Monday, January 12, 2015

Made It Monday - January (3 Long Division freebies!)

Thanks to Tara over at Fourth Grade Frolics for the Link up.

Right after  Christmas break we were hit with some nasty, cold weather here in northern Ohio.  As a result, we delayed once and canceled 3 days last week.  On the bright side, this gave me some time to work on developing some new materials for my classroom and catch up on reading of the great teacher blogs out there.

The plan when we came back from break was to dive headlong into the infamous topic of "long division." As a teacher of fourth grade for over 20 years, I can tell you that long division is easily the most challenging 4th grade math calculation my students will learn.  It involves a complicated, sometimes confusing, algorithm and requires a strong fluency of basic facts for not just for division, but also multiplication, and subtraction, too.  To master the steps requires a lot of practice, practice, and more practice.  I find myself taking deep breaths and giving myself mental pep talks (You can do this, Pransky.) before beginning these lessons.

We began our study by building a foundation in the vocabulary of division along with ways to represent division using some pages I created for their interactive notebooks. I'll probably put this up on TpT evetually but its not fully ready yet.
The vocab
You may have heard of this popular mnemonic
for the steps used in long division
Different ways to show division

In their early learning, I have found students benefit from scaffolding and cues to remind them of the steps that they need to follow to learn the standard method of long division.  Once they have rehearsed the steps enough, then I usually transition students doing their calculation on graph paper.  (Alignment is crucial for long division.)  

Over break I put together a 20 page packet of long division problems to work through during this unit.  I joked with the kids when they picked up their packet that they would need to have it done for homework that night - you should see how big their eyes got!  Instead we usually we do one page together and one independently each day.  By the time students are done with it, they have a done a couple hundred long division problems and most will have the algorithm down pat.

I'm offering it for free on TpT for a little while so check it out if you're interested.  Please give me some positive feedback love if you find them useful.

I also just posted a set of division task cards up on TpT.  Also, free for a limited time!  Go get them.  Don't forget to leave some feedback, please.

My task cards are a little unique in that they often have an answer document with a secret code riddle/joke that my students love.

Hope you have a great week, everyone.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Kahoot - making them fast, easy, and fun

Thanks to Kristen from Teaching Trio for the Link-Up.  I actually wrote this blog over Christmas break, but forgot to get it posted on the first day.  Oh well, hopefully I'm not too late to the party.  Maybe I will set up some reminders on my phone as suggested by Mary at 4th Works to remind me when to blog!

I wanted to share a few tips for creating quick & easy, customized and fun Kahoot games.  

First of all, if you haven't heard about Kahoot yet, then please go here to create a free account  so you can check it out.  Basically, Kahoot allows you to create your own online review game, survey, or discussion.  I have primarily used it for the purposes of review so that's what I'll focus on here. My students were loving these so much that I made a Christmas trivia Kahoot to play as one of our class party games before break. 

Quick & Easy
Need to prepare a Kahoot in a hurry?  First, look  at the public Kahoots.  There are thousands of them already created and many more being created each day.  You might find one that fits your needs perfectly.  There's nothing faster than using one that's already been created.  Word of caution though - always preview the entire thing first.  From my experience, mistakes are common in them.  Like me, many teachers are probably creating these late at night to use with their class the next day.  Also, you never know what images (inaapropriate or otherwise) someone may have added to the questions.   Better safe, than sorry.   If you like most of a Kahoot that has been made but find mistakes or questions you don't like, click "duplicate" and then edit it to your liking.  Questions can be edited or deleted entirely and new questions can be added as well.

Here are few public Kahoots that I made that you could try out if you teach any of these topics:

Kahoot has a wonderful feature of allowing images to be dropped into the question.  They add a lot of interest to your Kahoot so I always try add something if I have time.  I'd recommend pulling together your images you want to use first. It saves a lot of jumping back and forth.  If the images I want to use could be found on the internet somewhere, then I usually just use a google search, click images, and then just click "Save As" on the images I want to use. 

Now, if I want to create my own modified images to use in Kahoot (see below) then I use Apple's keynote presentation software. (I'm sure Powerpoint can do the same features but I can't say for sure.)

Watch the short video below to see how I do this.

Want to make your Kahoot's even more fun?  

Try these ideas.
  1. Have students work in partners or in teams instead of individually.
  2. Before starting the game, go to "Advanced options" and choose it to"Automatically move through questions."  Then play along with your students!  They love to try to beat the teacher!

  3. I like to add themes with things my students like to my Kahoots.  So far I've done cartoon characters, super heroes, villains, cute puppies, cute kitties, and sports stars.  Here's a few example images I have used.


  4. I recently discovered that you could add animated gifs to your Kahoots.  (see examples below)  The kids love these.  Here's how to find them easily.

    Do a google search for a topic. Go to "Images" then "Search tools" then "Type" then choose "Animated."
How to search for animated gifs screenshot

Searching the word "football" I found this fun animated gif.
Kids love funny animated gifs like this dancing football player

I first discovered that you could add animated gifs when I added this to my Christmas Trivia Kahoot game

Can you identify the Christmas movie this came from?

I hope everyone is has recharged their batteries and is ready for a great new year!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Currently January 2015

Thank you to Farley at Oh Boy, Fourth Grade for the Link Up.

If you are like me you probably slept in this morning and are starting off 2015 in style by lounging in your pajamas.

Listening to...
Uptown Funk (featuring Bruno Mars) by Marc Ronson.  I am sucker of old school funky horns and beats.  Bruno Mars and Marc Ronson deliver it with style in this song.  Need a morning pick me up?  Add this to your playlist.


Game of Thrones.  While we have given up on our cable subscription, the whole family has been binge watching shows on Netflix and HBO Go over break.  (So much so that we went over our data usage from our internet provider this month - oops!)  My daughter is watching Arrow.  My son was been watching Pysch.  My wife and I are in the eighth season of DexterSince my wife was working on a lot the days I had off, I decided to watch a series that I thought she wouldn't be interested inMy brother recommended that I watch the HBO show Game of Thrones.  It is a very adult drama set in a fantasy medieval world (Think Lord of the Rings but with nudity).  The show is not for everyone as it is very violent, but the acting and storylines are excellent. 

Where the heck can I watch the Ohio State vs. Alabama game tonight??  I'm not a huge sports fan, but I do like watching college football.  My home state Buckeyes have made it into the BCS playoffs, but it's being played on ESPN tonight.  Ugh!  This summer my family gave up our cable TV to save some money.  Honestly, I don't miss it except for two things - Walking Dead on AMC and occasionally some sports on ESPN.  I guess my son and I will have dinner at some sports bar tonight. 

to stay in my jammies all day.  You know what I'm saying, right?

to get back to a normal sleep pattern.  I am most definitely a night owl rather than an early bird.  Usually over the summer and during Christmas break, I stay up a little later and get up a little later each day.  If I don't start getting back to normal bedtime, the first Monday back to school will be rough!

Yes, maybe a wish...
to travel to China.  Keith May, one of my oldest and best friends and his wife, Heather, joined the Peace Corps last summer and were assigned to teach English at a college in China.  They have created an amazing blog where their friends and family can read about their experiencesI read as soon as it is published.  I also video chat with them occasionally when we can find a time where we are both available (China is a 12 hour time difference so this is challenging sometimes).  I think about and miss these friends a lot.  I was video chatting with Keith recently and we talked about the possibility of me coming to visit them in China next summer.  My wife has given me the green light.  Now, it's really about saving up the money (around 3 grand for the flight) and working out the logistics.  I really hope we can make it happen. 

And finally, wishing...
for you, a year of  peace, love, health and happiness!